I love a good monster story. Strange beasts lurking in the darkness, and the people who hunt them? Sign me up! I also love comics, so here are a few of my favorite comics that involve monsters. All have been collected in paperback format, so you don’t have to track down individual comic book issues.
Bad Medicine. Written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir (one of our favorite writing teams), drawn by Christopher Mitten (one of our favorite artists), colored by Bill Crabtree, and lettered by Douglas E. Sherwood.
Bad Medicine is a supernatural cop drama centered around Dr. Randal Horne, a physician who killed one of his patients by using a drug his colleagues knew was unsafe. A murder case where the dead body has an invisible head brings him into contact with Detective Joely Huffman and two CDC agents. Together they must track down a rogue researcher whose experiments with a retrovirus now have a body count. The second case for this unlikely team brings them to a small town, looking for an explanation for an animal attack… that looks suspiciously like werewolves.
I loved the diversity of the team, not just in terms of gender and race, but also in personality. No one is a one-dimensional stereotype. And the X-Files vibe was right up my alley. It says it’s Volume 1, so I’m not giving up hope that there will be a Volume 2 even though it’s been a while.
The Beast of Wolfe’s Bay by Erik Evensen, with color assists from Jeff Fugelsang and letters by Matt Talbot.
The Beast of Wolfe’s Bay is like the internet nerd version of Bad Medicine. We start with Brian Wegman, an anthropology post-grad whose dissertation may never get approved. He’s called home by his sheriff dad to consult on a murder case in his hometown… alongside Freddie Roth, a long-ago school friend whose academic career has gone much more smoothly. The case? Looks like Bigfoot is killing people. You know, like happens all the time in small towns.
Can Brian redeem his academic failures by cracking the case? Will he ever figure out that Freddie is just as much of a nerd as he is (see her shirt above?), and she’d kiss him if given half the chance? And just how many Bigfoots are rampaging through the forest outside of town? Plenty of geek pop culture jokes here, and characters you can’t help but like.
S.H.O.O.T. First by Justin Aclin, with art by Nicolás Daniel Selma, colors by Marlac, and letters by Amanda Aguilar Selma.
I fell in love with this book in about seven pages. The premise: all the angels, demons, spirits, and magical creatures humans believe in are actually otherworldy beings interfering with humanity. They gain strength from humans’ faith and wreak havoc in our world. So a team of atheists is on a mission to destroy these creatures before they try to end the world. We join the action as Infidel, the newest member, discovers the truth about their battle when “jinns” attack the mosque where he’s trying to re-kindle his faith.
The S.H.O.O.T. team won my heart in two ways. First, the team members include both men and women, and they’re from a variety of national and ethnic backgrounds. Second, they wisecrack properly during fight scenes. Always a bonus.
B.P.R.D. Volume 9: 1946 (and its sequels.) Mike Mignola is the creator and author, joined by by a changing team across the series. Writers Joshua Dysart, John Arcudi, and Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon. Art by Paul Azaceta, Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon, and Max Fuimara. Colors by Nick Filardi and Dave Stewart. Letters by Clem Robins.
Hellboy fans will know instantly that B.P.R.D. stands for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. The B.P.R.D. 1946+ series focuses on Professor Broom, Hellboy’s adoptive father. It begins in post-war Germany, with the investigation of a Nazi Occult Bureau project called Vampir Sturm. Unfortunately, this investigation requires cooperation from the Russians, including an actual demon who leads the Soviet arcane studies division. Varvara the demon appears as a young, beautiful doll almost, or an extremely creepy Shirley Temple. And she’s a little too interested in Hellboy.
The story continues in B.P.R.D. Volume 13: 1947 in which Broom leads a new team into Eastern Europe to confront a vampire serial killer. B.P.R.D.: 1948 takes place at Broom’s desert headquarters where possibly atomic-bred monsters are killing people. Then B.P.R.D.: Vampires follows Anders, the team member who carries a burden from events of 1947, on his journey for vengeance. I liked 1946 and Vampires best, C-Man liked 1947 more. All very creeptastic in a lovely way.
Legion of Monsters, written by Dennis Hopeless. Art by Juan Doe, colors by Wil Quintana, and letters by David Lanphear.
Legion of Monsters is part of the Marvel Comics universe, but you won’t find the traditional Marvel superheroes here. Instead you get Elsa Bloodstone, famed monster hunter. Something’s turning regular (mostly) law-abiding monsters into serial killers with dark magic, and the citizens of Monster Metropolis need Elsa’s help to stop it.
And she needs the help of her werewolf not-boyfriend Jack, of course, because reasons. It’s a strange little book, I must admit, and at times the art is questionable… like when Doe draws Damon Hellstrom, one of my other favorite Marvel characters. (I’m pretty sure human necks don’t DO that.) But Elsa is awesome, there’s an interesting detective story in here, and it has a sort of pulp vibe to it that I really dig.
Day Men by Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson. Art by Brian Stelfreeze, colors by Darrin Moore, letters by Ed Dukeshire.
Who watches over vampires during the day? David Reid knows, because he’s one of them. Trained, trusted, and ultimately disposable. A servant of scary, scary masters, right when all kinds of hell are about to break loose.
Nelson wrote Hexed, one of my favorite comics (see my magic comics post), so I knew he could tell a good creepy story. Teaming up with Gagnon has created a multi-layered story with just as much dread and human pain, but far more conspiracy and suspicion. Stelfreeze and Moore are a great pair as well. I especially love the facial expressions, and the coloring of the clothing and backgrounds. Oh, and the fire. The fire is really pretty. Can’t wait for the next book of this series!
Silver by Stephan Franck.
Steal a collection of rare silver from the estate of Mina and Jonathan Harker during an auction, what could go wrong? And when you screw it up and then decide to steal even more silver from a castle full of vampires… well, let’s hope anyone’s going to make it out alive. I enjoyed this pulp 1930s heist well enough to back the second volume on Kickstarter, so that tells you something. The black and white newsprint-looking art, the surly gal with a sword, and the promise of serious vampire mayhem in book two was an irresistible combination. I’d also like to know what’s going on with that kid who can see any future except his own. (Update: I got the second book. It was great! Vampires and a caper!)
And that’s the list of our favorite monster comics and graphic novels! If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments – and thanks for sharing on social media or with friends!